This was based on the Writer’s Digest Creative writing prompt “From Random Page to Story” which was to open a book, magazine, or (in my case) newspaper to a random page and start a story with the first line on the page and end the story with the last line at the bottom of the page. Names have been changed.
“Conrad and Tiffany Johnston, a couple accused in their son’s death, have now been formally charged with endangering the welfare of their disabled daughter.”
The throng of reporters all erupted into questions as soon as the Police Chief finished his statement, thrusting their microphones forward or holding their pens at the ready over a blank notebook page. The chief held his hands up, and the media quieted in anticipation. “No further comment,” he stated, before turning and striding back into the police station.
I silenced the TV with the flick of a button, bringing an end to all the questions that the reporters continued to yell to the chief as he closed the brief press conference. I turned back to my desk, back to the Johnston case paperwork. Crime scene photos of the boy cluttered my desk, turning my stomach at the neglect and abuse he had suffered.
I flipped through statements made by neighbors, searching for the next step that I could use to nail this rotten couple with their son’s death. The anonymous tips had been slow. They ranged from the ridiculous to conspiratorial, with one individual claiming they had proof that there was a connection between the Johnstons and the local Children and Youth Services center.
“Sloan! This just came for you.”
I looked up and took the padded envelope the desk sergeant held out to me. “Who’s it from?” I flipped it over, looking for a return address but found none, just my name printed on an address label and stuck to the middle.
“No idea. The postman said it was in the mailbox about a block from here. When he saw it said Detective, he brought it here.”
My pocketknife opened it easily. Enclosed was a DVD in a thin jewel case with a sticky note attached to it. My heart began to race as the words sank in, and with trembling hands I placed the disk in my computer. Windows Media Player opened automatically and began to play the DVD, and what I saw left me both sick and on an adrenaline high. “We’ve got them,” I whispered. “We’ve got the proof we need.”
“What is it?” the desk sergeant asked me. “What did the note say?”
I looked down at the note that came with the DVD and wondered if ever a sentence had been more true. “It says…’Somebody needs to be watching this.'”